Paracale village benefits from Ako Bicol project
By Rhaydz B. Barcia
PARACALE, Camarines Norte --- The homegrown Bicolano partylist, Ako Bicol turned over the first solar-powered water system project worth P2.8 million in the gold-rich mining town of Paracale in Camarines Norte.
Representatives Elizaldy S. Co and Alfredo Garbin of Ako Bicol flew to the remote area of Sitio Igang, Barangay Batobalani to personally grace the turnover ceremony of the completed potable water system, which will serve members of the Kabihug or Manide community, the region’s oldest tribe.
The level 2 solar-powered water system will benefit 44 households wherein 19 of them are members of the Kabihug or Manide tribe residing at Zone 6, Sitio Igang, Barangay Batobalani, Paracale town in Camarines Norte.
Co said that the Ako Bicol partylist is going around the Bicol region to look for communities experiencing water shortage so that they can be provided with a potable water system by tapping the power of solar energy.
“We in Ako Bicol are roaming around to locate clean water using our state-of-the-art equipment in our quest to provide clean potable water system projects for the people. This will benefit the indigenous people living within the area as they could get clean drinking water for free without going somewhere else,” Co said.
Co said Ako Bicol is prioritizing the provision of water system in upland areas where the services of local water districts are not available.
CLEAN DRINKING WATER. Blessing and inauguration of the solar-powered water system in Paracale town.
“In the future, water is gold. Many will suffer from water borne related illnesses due to dirty water,” he added.
Meanwhile, Garbin said that Ako Bicol has identified 71 sites across the Bicol region for water projects under the 18th Congress.
“The 71 water system projects are not enough. We will identify more. When the water is not safe the community is not safe. If we’re drinking dirty water, we cannot assure a healthy community that’s why we’re trying to provide clean and potable water in communities with less access to clean water,” Garbin said.
He said “water is basic rights under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that’s why Ako Bicol would like to identify 200 more sites before the end of 2022.”
In all the areas we’ve visited, the villagers are always telling us that they are walking several kilometers just to get water. Others get anywhere else. Some senators joined us in this initiative to identify more sites for water projects, Garbin said.
Aside from water system, Ako Bicol also handed over a television set and slippers to the Manide tribesmen.
Tirry Velasco, chieftain of Manide tribe located in Sitio Iyawan, Barangay Batobalani, Paracale, Camarines Norte expressed gratitude to Ako Bicol for the construction of the water system.
Barangay chairman Nelson Dasco said that the water system is a big help to their area as village residents will now have access to clean water.
“My constituents are facing hardship to get clean drinking water specifically during summer time due to water shortage. But with this remarkable water system, we will no longer have problems with our clean drinking water supply, he said.
Flordeliza B. Aler, project engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the water system project, said that the funds used in the construction of the project was sourced through the initiative of the Ako Bicol partylist from the 2020 national budget.
She said that adie from the water system in Paracale, there are two other similar projects in Bagong Silang in Labo and Guinatungan in Basud, all in Camarines Norte.
Paracale Vice Mayor Bernadette Azotea thanked the Ako Bicol lawmakers for establishing a water project that could address the water shortage in their town.
“Water is life. We cannot live without water. We need this project. Thank you to the proponent Ako Bicol for taking steps to make this project realistic and sustainable. This will benefit our constituents where the IPs are residing,” Azotea said.
Barangay Batobalani has a 5,326 population based on the 2015 census representing 9 percent of the total population of Paracale town.
Paracale, derived from “para cale”, meaning canal digger’ is a third-class town with 27 barangays and a 59,149 population served by levels I, II and III water supply. Other barangays get their water supply from shallow wells, deep wells or dug wells.
According to the Department of Public Works and Highways, each solar-powered water system has eight solar panels. It can generate an average of 10,500 liters per second and can fill up the water tank in three to four.
Based on the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, 187,673 people in Bicol do not have safe drinking water, and that more than five million Bicolanos get water from dug wells.
In Bicol, the provinces of Masbate, Camarines Sur, and Albay have the highest number of households without access to safe drinking water.